Barnsley House – Cotswolds
Not even anti-social media could spoil the experience of a visit to Barnsley House for Mike Barnes.
Why is it that some seem to think it acceptable to sit at a restaurant table, vision focused on a mobile, thumbs doing overtime? And I'm talking about thirty-something couples, him and her oblivious of one another and lost in the flakey world of Facebook and Whatsapp. No row. No smouldering looks or sulks. Just behaving in a way which they consider is normal. Actually, it's not.
I'll bet Rosemary Verey wouldn't have had any of it. I was prompted to think of the late much celebrated garden designer when staying at Barnsley Hotel & Spa, her home until her death at the age of 82 in 2001. Since 2003 it has been a country house hotel. And a very fine one at that.
Situated just east of Cirencester, in the chocolate box Cotswold village of Barnsley (not to be confused with the Scargill territory of the same name), the stunning William & Mary house and Arts and Crafts garden make for an irresistible combination.
The interior is stylish, devoid of chintz, contemporary and, most importantly, very comfortable. There are 18 bedrooms (our bed was luscious) all individual in terms of shape and style. We ate in the Potager Restaurant but The Village Pub, just over the road (property of the same owners) also serves simple but good pub food. Back at the Potager meanwhile, head chef Graham Grafton oversees the cooking of predominately English cuisine, but with an Italian twist, also making full use of the hotel's vegetable garden. His team deliver some pretty classy food. The wine list is not a book, but offers an imaginative and sensibly priced selection.
Barnsley House also has its own 30-seater cinema with screenings of recent blockbusters on Wednesday and Sunday nights, tickets for which include a special two-course menu. It has been a consistent success since opening four years ago.
And of course the area is known for its attraction to celebs – Liz Hurley lives next door. But of more interest to our readers is the fact that nearby are a number of good shoots such as Salperton, Stanway, Sudeley Castle, and more. The hotel also caters for private parties, so we are talking about the perfect place to gather for R&R before a day in pursuit of partridges and pheasants.
All the better… the staff were either brilliantly trained or absolute naturals. Either way, they were charming – quite unlike our friends from the world of anti-social media.
N.B. The gardens are stunning.
Tel. +44 (0)800 089 0829